You’d like to eat healthily, fast and cheaply during your trip to Turkey? Then there are a few more traditional treats that you can find in every corner of the country. Most of these snacks and drinks are sold in small carts on wheels, corner stores or in the so-called “lokanta” (small restaurant). If you are lucky, you’ll even stumble upon a small restaurant where the women prepare the dishes in a traditional way. Learn more about the origins and preparation of gözleme, kumpir, balık ekmek, dürüm/döner, köfte, ayran, şalgam suyu, salep, ballı ballı and çekirdek.
Gözleme have become widespread in Germany too. Prepared with “yufka” (thin pieces of dough), they are often filled with sheep’s cheese, minced meat, potatoes or spinach and then folded over. If you’re lucky enough to observe yours being prepared, you’ll be impressed with the skills of the Turkish women. They roll the dough with a finger-thick rolling pin until the dough is paper-thin. The gözleme are then cooked in a stone oven.
This potato speciality from Turkey also enjoys popularity here in Germany. First, the large potatoes are baked in an oven. Then they are cut in half, so that butter and grated cheese can be mixed together with the insides. Pasta salad, Russian salad, quark cheese, corn, kısır, olives, sausage, pickled vegetables or ketchup and mayonnaise can be added to your own taste.
If you spend any time in a coastal region of Turkey, you shouldn’t miss the fish sandwiches. At the Golden Horn in Istanbul balık ekmek is served within minutes. A fish with the bones removed is placed in a half a loaf of bread and garnished with lettuce and onions.
Dürüm and döner are prepared in a very different way than in Germany. While the meat is grilled on a rotating spit, it has far less seasoning, so that the taste of the meat is more intense. Aside from this, dürüm/döner don’t come with sauces like they do in Germany, and there aren’t many condiment options either. You either choose the wrap variation, meaning the dürüm, or the bread variation. Funnily enough, there are many German-Turks who don’t like döner in Turkey. Perhaps they’re missing the garlic or hot sauce?
You can’t forget köfte when in Turkey. The meatballs look different depending on the region. They’re either small and round or oval. You can find this fast food on almost every street corner, where it is sold from small snack carts. Köfte tastes best in a sandwich with lettuce and onions.
This white yoghurt drink was voted the staple drink of Turkey. Whether you’re eating fish, köfte, döner or kumpir, ayran goes with all of them. Aside from that, it’s really simple to prepare at home: Just take natural yoghurt, mix with water and add some salt. Voilà.
Şalgam suyu is something you either hate or love. The reddish, sour and spicy drink is made of turnips. In English it’s called turnip juice. First, the vegetable is chopped and mixed with water. The addition of yeast and salt get the fermentation going, which creates the sour taste.
Winter in Turkey means time for salep. The powder for this drink is made from a root tuber from the family of orchids. It is either mixed with hot water or hot milk. Ground cinnamon refines the taste of this thick drink, which is sweet and healthy.
Of course, there has to be something sweet on our list. “Ballı ballı” sweets, also known as “halka tatlısı”, are rings that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are prepared with flour and sugar and then deep-fried. Finally, sugar water is drizzled over them. They taste the same as “lokma,” which we’ve also written about.
Sieht man auf dem Boden leere If you see empty sunflower seed shells on the ground, then you know that some friends sat here yesterday evening chatting about the world and enjoying each other’s company. “Çekirdek çitlemek” can be seen and heard in every part of Turkey. That means that those enjoying the seeds break open the shell with their front teeth and remove the seed with their tongue. The sunflower or pumpkin seeds, which are roasted and salted, are as much a part of social company as “çay.”
Text: Nur Şeyda Kapsız
Click here for Part 1 of Street Food in Istanbul: